Grammar

Action Verbs and Non-Action Verbs

Verbs are often described as “action words”. These are the words that tell us what somebody is doing. Actually, this is only true some of the time. There are other kinds of verbs that aren’t used to convey action! We touched on this in a previous article about incomplete sentences, but we’re going to look at both types of verbs more closely.

Action verbs

Action verbs are what most people think of when they are asked to list some verbs. These kinds of verbs are also known as dynamic verbs. Below are some common action verbs.

runjumpwalkdancetalk
cryspeakeatplaydrive
cooklaughskateflyswim
washshoutdrinkfixtravel
sleepsneezespinchewsing

Like all verbs, action verbs can take on different forms, depending on the subject or when the action takes place. Here are some example sentences to make this clearer for you:

Lee cooks dinner every night.

I spoke to my boss about the new ad campaign.

We danced at the club last night. The deejay played great music!

Mike and Janet wash their clothes at the laundromat on Main Street.

Non-action verbs

Non-action verbs are also known as stative verbs. Instead of telling us what someone is doing, these verbs tell us about the subject’s feelings, opinions, senses, and state of being.

You probably use non-action verbs more often than action verbs. Think of how often you say or write some form of the verbs “to be” and “to have”. Those two verbs are everywhere!

Sharna was born in Detroit. She is African-American.

I have a class this afternoon, but I am not busy tomorrow.

The kids are at McDonald’s having lunch.

I had a car like that when I was in high school.

Here are some other non-action verbs:

thinkknowfeelwant
meanappearimagineexpect
believelikelovehate
needseemdecideforget
understandseeownowe

As is the case with action verbs, non-action verbs take on different forms depending on the subject and the time frame.

I need a new coat.

That financial report seems odd.

When Gino was a child, he hated spicy food.

My husband felt sick last night.

Juanita understands the assignment.

Arthur and Henry owe me a lot of money.

If you want to make sure you are using a verb correctly, click the blue box below. One of our TextRanch editors will take a look at your writing and give you some feedback.

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